Mental health disorders are highly common in the United States. More than one in five U.S. adults is living with a mental illness.

Mental illnesses such as depression and PTSD are risk factors for suicide. Being able to spot suicide warning signs can help you determine whether a loved one needs help.

Suicide Awareness Month is observed every year in September. Knowing the link between mental health and suicide can help you protect your loved ones.

What Is Mental Health?

Mental health refers to every aspect of your health that isn’t physical. It includes your emotional health, psychological health, and social well-being.

Taking care of your mental health is important for your quality of life. Good mental health can lead to healthy relationships and high creativity. It can also improve your physical health and lengthen your lifespan.

Warning Signs to Be Aware Of

Sometimes, mental health issues can be difficult to spot. Warning signs to be aware of include:

  • Eating too much or not enough
  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Pulling away from friends and family
  • Losing interest in your favorite activities
  • Having low energy
  • Having unexplained physical aches and pains
  • Feeling numb
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Smoking or using drugs more than usual
  • Drinking more alcohol than usual
  • Having severe mood swings
  • Feeling angry all the time.
  • Yelling or fighting with loved ones
  • Feeling more worried or scared than usual
  • Not being able to do usual everyday tasks, like going to work
  • Hearing voices in your head
  • Thinking about hurting yourself or others
  • Thinking about suicide

How to Help Friends and Family

Helping a friend or family member could reduce their risk for suicide. Here are ways to help your loved ones with their mental health:

  • Show your concern and offer to help.
  • Tell the person that you care about them.
  • Ask the person if they are getting treatment for their mental health. If not, provide them with resources such as a suicide prevention hotline.
  • Tell the person that there are lots of treatments for mental health issues.
  • Volunteer to help the person with everyday tasks. For example, you can offer to run certain errands.
  • Invite or include the person in your plans or social activities.
  • Treat the person with respect and compassion.
  • Be empathic with the person about their issue.

Crisis Hotline Numbers

If you or someone else needs help, do not hesitate to reach out. You can talk to a highly trained crisis worker about the problem. You may also be given extra resources for professional treatment.  Here are a few important crisis hotline resources: 

  • 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: Call or send a text to 988
  • 911
  • Crisis Text Line: Send a text to 741741
  • Your state’s Department of Health
  • Veterans Crisis Line: Call 988, then press 1
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness: Text “NAMI” to 741-741